And that I aim to be.
A local leader in our greater Atlanta community came up with some great questions seekers should ask prospective teachers. I will narrate the answers as best as I can.
I look at a western Pagan culture that is steeped and colored by Wicca that took its roots in the United States with the Feminist movement of the late 1960’s. The idea of god being female and a religious group leader being female was a strong incentive in our country that is steeped in misogyny and a patriarchal cultural paradigm. Since then there has been a lot of reconstruction of pre-Christian pagan beliefs and practices. Some of it is well researched, and much of it poorly researched. A lot of it is purely made up with poetic license. Natural born witches, people of personal power and ability, and groups had been hunted down wholesale, and whole villages of other schisms were put to the fire, the noose or sword. Others went underground, in secret societies, and family traditions, keeping in the mainstream, mostly working for society with what talents they could. They couldn’t advertise and share. They didn’t have conventions, newspapers or mail lists. Each was dangerous. Wicca, by Gerald Gardner, the Sanders, Richard Buckland and Stewart & Janet Farrar brought Wicca out in its format. Leland brought a light of Italian witchcraft. Sybil Leek brought to light a family tradition, and others added bit by bit. Where people couldn’t get first hand teaching, they learned by books. Few lead by spirit. Many lead by Ego, seduced by the idea of personal empowerment.
I was born 1958 in Saratoga, NY. I lived at the edge of the Battlefield until I was 7. I went out as a child to wander in woods, the bog, the streams, enjoying the world as it was. I would sing to the birds in glossolalia and to the convocation of murders of crows. There was one woman that was a friend of my mother who told me not to speak such words until I was much older. My mother took me to her house once, and I asked about the peacock feather. My mother told me not to ask about such things. She told me I could ask anytime I wanted. Many years later i found out it was an outward symbol of witches for people who were “in the know”. I never did get an opportunity to talk to her.
In 1965, my father, grandfather and uncle all died within months of each other. Two weeks after my grandfather’s passing, I was sleeping in the room next to his, and woke up early. I went downstairs, and heard more activity in that section of the house. My grandfather came walking down stairs. The world did a tilt out of 45 degrees and back. My grandfather said, “So long Sonny.” He stepped off to the side of the stairs, and proceeded in becoming transparent, then there was dust, and settled in a pile and it too disappeared. He was already buried for a while. As long as I lived in that house, there were these werewolf like things with red eyes that would visit me in spirit form.
This wasn’t my first spiritual experience. I was having one since my first memories when I was around two. In my sleep and day dreaming I would see two orbs swirling with a separate center and swirling around it like a golden orb with thousands of points of liquid sand. The other orb was swirling in its own sets of centers, each moving. I have seen it mentioned twice. Once in an obscure reference by a yoga teacher, and in a book by the author of Falun Dafa, inferring it was a protection or an oversight by a spiritual being. My teacher taught me really what it was, how to create one and why.
My father and grandfather, went to spiritualist’s meetings in their day. My mother’s mother read cards and palms, and taught my mother the basics of palm reading. After reading a friend’s passing that was a few weeks in the future, she gave it up. Thirty-five years later I found out those red eyed werewolves were fae, the English called them noggins, that inhabit marshy forests, just like the one across the street from our house.
How long have I been Pagan? How long could I be a Christian when I am dealing with psychic and paranormal phenomena without a lot of ostracization and discrimination? Many Pagans and Wiccans I know of pursued these beliefs from a need of self-empowerment. They come from dysfunctional families, cultures and were bullied by their peers for any number of reasons. Many faced the misogyny of the culture. Being a person of color, or large size (fat or big), smart, with a control of one’s own thinking and not blindly following “what everybody else does”, gets one scrutinized and abused accordingly. As a Baptist, I was narrowly accepted. Were I in the mountains, I’d be one where the hand of fellowship would be “withdrawn”.
I wasn’t aware of all the cultural shake ups and the exploration others were doing in the 60’s. I was surrounded by old, conservative, albeit a family of Liberal party members in upstate NY. My mother was a depression era parent, yet liberal for her day and age. She knew what condoms were and was popular. As if that secret could be kept. Two books changed my life. I received a copy of “Stranger in a Strange Land”, by Robert Heinlein. I purchased a book named ” Tibetan Yoga, Secret Doctrines” by Dr. Evans Wentz. I taught myself meditation and started getting a handle on lucid dreaming, plane walking (took years to understand that), and refined my intuitive and psychic awareness. I was 14, in 1972, . Due to a lack of any social outlet, I joined a Baptist church. When you are so out of step from the insanity of illogical people rarely, anything, including adults, made sense. When your parents and their parents are all closed lip and kept things close to their vests, along with self absorbed neurotic burying of core traumatic events, rarely do you get an honest dialog with anyone. The neighborhood my mother moved to was an exit community. People coming out of the city, with all the dregs and hangers on trying to drag them back down, and all those, who no matter what they did, their own impulses drug them and their families back down to the lower rungs of society. The most social order was the drug gangs and their comradery. I was not part of any group. I was an outsider with a unique perspective looking in. With an IQ of 180 at that time, I had skipped 5th grade. I was one or two years younger than my peers and had nothing in common with those my own age. I was 5’10” 180 lbs, when I was 13.
As a Christian, and as my only known source for any type of supernatural intervention and support, I called upon the only God I was familiar with. I asked for the wisdom of Solomon, a.k.a. the wisdom of God, and after prayer and a progressive fast of 40 days, I had a vision. I found the name of God I called and a got a response from was ‘El”. Years later I learned about the large Canaanite Pantheon, all the predecessor cultures and evolution of this God’s names over the previous 3000 years. I was told I would be released in 32 years. I was exposed to more and more things. I had to learn how to deal with them., not unlike Siberian or Tuvan Shaman learn to deal with spirits. Here they are, deal. Most people are familiar with the White Shaman traditions that deal mostly with spirits and are initiated with a Shaman’s sickness. The Black Shaman learn. A lot of learning and experiences happened when I was in the Marine Corps. I had to deal with a Satanist that had invoked demons, performed an exorcism and two “soul retrievals”, along with being attacked by demons a dozen times in two weeks. I got external verification of what I saw and felt by other people with talents. I learned to do what I had to do. Otherwise, I think I would be severely messed up. The basic exercises in the Tibetan Yoga book, the discipline, the meditation and cultivation of energy helped me to a great degree. At the end of the two week period of being attacked, several of us observed a being that called itself Ashura. (Japanese war god, and Hindu Asuras (jealous gods)). The situation that presented itself was that there was either , I accepted this as God’s will, God was messing with me (yes he was) or there was a much bigger supernatural and paranormal world out there (Oh yes, very much so). I was 21 and Pagan was a label that I had to slowly assimilate into.
As a seeker, trying to get an education with an essentially dismantled GI bill, going to work, and finding anything and anyone that I could learn more from, was difficult. The few groups in the area were women only. We had Marcia Pickands who was adopting the Sangreal Sodality ceremonial magic methodologies for William Gray’s version of Kabbalah. The particular problem she saw with me was that my experiences had already outstripped any of the initiatory processes that ceremonial initiations had to serve. My experiences and my processing of them would not mesh with those of that group or for that matter many others. She suggested I start teaching myself. This is 30 years ago. Traditions and revelatory initiations provide a context for spiritual development, just as do school and other rites of passage. In those cultures each of those have a context. Shamans have that opportunity. In Siberia, Altai and other areas, the spirits work directly with individuals. If they are lucky they have another shaman to help them develop their role in society. Other types of shaman develop their skills on their own or teach individuals that have the skill, but it is a one to one mentor-protege type of relationship. I spent a considerable amount of personal effort to understand different spiritual methodologies and experiences from many different viewpoints. My personal teacher, who I found at age 50, had teachers from his own family that were Native American, but not on a tribal list and was also trained by teachers who adopted him in NE California and Nevada, as well as others in the 4 corners area. He was taught by a teacher in Korea. Some of it was traditional, much of it was from a group of practitioners who shared their knowledge. This wasn’t something typical either. My experiences and takes on them meshed with his and his experiences, and he decided to teach me more. I was taught some non-traditional methodologies and practices and most of the common practices I had pretty much knew or had learned. It is nice to get some confirmation after all those years.
687 books listed http://www.librarything.com/catalog/Archonstone Most of which I have read. Many are resource books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, etc. Some of the books are on anthropology, psychology, philosophy, religion, practices and other assorted and related topics.
Books I’m reading currently, Ba Gua Circle Walking Nei Gong 2012, Kriya Secrets Revealed 2013, Ling Bao Tong Zhi Neng Nei Gong Shu 2015, Meditations by Aurelius 1997.
I am sure I have read other books along the way, some lost, some pilfered by others, and many skimming through at libraries. And no, I don’t remember all the book details. I do try to make sure they are valid, academic, or at least supported by traditions, and some hermeneutic scrutiny can be made on the contents of the books.
I supported CUUPs briefly at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Schenectady, NY in 1990. I led a couple of the Sabbats, with a third degree individual as a mentor. He was satisfied that it generated the type of space and energy that third degrees would do. (With this out of context and not in a traditional setting, it is what it is. I was glad that the participants found the ritual useful and transformative. ) The UU got a new minister and the congregation changed its focus to more conservative Christian focuses.
In the late 80’s, I supported a group called Heathens on the Hudson. This ended up being a drumming group, with one woman who was a multiple addict, got into Reiki, and had issues that took control of that group. The group disintegrated. I left before it fully degenerated.
I ran a computer Bulletin Board Service (BBS) called the Wizard’s Workshop. It was designed to help people explore what their path may be. Most needed to know they were not a freak and other people have talents. No, they aren’t evil, wrong, and no, they don’t have to follow the first “so called” expert that comes along. Use critical thinking, question what these people are about. Guard their sense of selves, they don’t have to bow down to anyone, ask questions, and not to feed the vampires. There were a lot of predatory types in the upstate NY and capital district area during that time.
One reason why I may have difficulty with people? My hard life and personal history don’t make me relatable. I don’t deal with people who lie and take advantage of other people. It is exceptionally difficult to be in a position to help others, when a sociopath sees that you have good intentions and targets you with their cultivated enablers. When you are targeted for being male, large, too intelligent, geek, nerd, experiences that no one can relate to, too young and now too old, too conservative, too liberal or whatever leverage du jour that has little to do with what I know and what I can show people. Lastly, I have gotten to the point where I value my time and energy, and won’t give of myself indiscriminately, to be used over and over by people won’t value what I have to offer beyond what they can take advantage of.
If you are a seeker, what might be there about you that you shouldn’t use me as a teacher? If you are looking for an excuse to live without ethics or morals. Personally, I am an ethical hedonist. People who look for justifications for bad behavior, don’t waste your time. If you are looking for power over people. I am not good at that and even if I were I wouldn’t teach you. How do you serve the people? If you believe magic doesn’t require work. To progress, work must be done. There are practices that need to be done more or less daily. The practices build on each other. If you can’t do that, then you will not progress and won’t have the experiences where I can help you with a new set of exercises to discover for yourself. At one point I become a guide. Not a teacher. Once you have experiences that we can relate to, then we will have a common frame of reference to talk about it. Until then, there is no talking or teaching that will get you there. And it will be evident that you haven’t done the work. T. Coyle’s book infers this in her own teaching from the Feri tradition. As part of a tribe and a community, there has to be a desire to work to some sort of service.
What type of person won’t fit into People Embracing Change (PEC), the tribe? Anyone that fails with the above. Magical traditions and methods can vary. The ultimate spiritual goals can be vastly different. What cannot be different, is that we have to sophisticatedly work with each other as family, society, community and tribe. If you have no respect for people who have been there, and cause drama to tear apart any structure, method, or tradition, then you won’t develop the skills and understanding to be respected enough to actually help the tribe to evolve. People who think they know, when they are just there for themselves, will destroy a group very shortly.
As long as there is an interest in the group, I will be giving about 6 hours a week to the group. Some of that is prep time for the classes, or focus on organizational issues. The rest of the time is divided between work and family.
PEC is still just starting. Several starts of classes have been on and off for the past 8 years. There were two starts of classes where we had self-serving people come in and try to prey on others. This again is in that fragile beginning. Enablers won’t be supported. They will be asked to leave with the sociopaths. There was one group where we had an open, eclectic, social sabbat group. There were different people with their own agenda’s all vying to make and hold the group to their influence. It started disintegrating. Trying to expand the group and functions, the vying to control each aspect and squash what couldn’t be controlled, caused the group to explode. The details are only important to describe human behavior. I have learned my lesson. I for one wanted to see that type of Sabbat keep going as a social and community event. I and a few others wanted to add classes and other type of spiritual groups and practices.
PEC has its organizational outline, it is inclusive with ethical guidelines. It allows people to have multiple paths, of study, and development. In the end, community, family and developing a sophisticated and healthy supportive culture is more important. One’s spiritual path can’t be devoid of having a meaning in a context with the world and community. The last time anything like this has been done, is when tribes have hived off to create new tribes. From my studies, this hasn’t been done in more than 400 years, and the last places may have been by Native Americans or West Africa. So, we are doing this with no current precedence.
- We are currently planning 4 – 6 hours a month in classes and lectures.
- Sabbats are run by Elders currently until there are enough trained individuals or society groups, that have been formed have taken it on as a service, rotated with other society groups.
- Number of books for each level of training. There are no levels, except what is respected in one’s work and development. The books to read will be suggested. There will be no deep teaching unless people put in the work to study. Depending on the individual’s temperament, direction of study, we will make recommendations.
- Each spiritual group, whether it is Wicca, Heathen, lodge work, will have their own internal organizational methodologies.
- As part of the tribe, each member must be belong to some spiritual society for personal development. Council members must be a leader from one of these groups, to represent the group. To become an elder, they need to experience and develop an ecumenical skill set with different groups. Show a deep understanding of the group, the people and a sophisticated skill set to develop leaders and encourage the tribe to grow and work toward resolutions. Elders’ focus is the growth and transformation of the tribe. They will cultivate leaders and a culture that can be cherished, transmitted, and evolve to meet the needs of the people. This is no small task. They will need to develop respect from each of the Elders and all of the council members, and a trust from Tribal members. Without it, there is no leadership. Elders coach others to develop their leadership abilities, to help build respect and on how to work with each other, along with developing conflict resolution.
- We are looking at some sort of recognition ritual and methodology. Some of it needs to be managed from each magical society, others by service. We have ideas, but they won’t make a difference until we all start working together, to make it a working cultural idiom.
- The structure of the public classes will be based on the published curriculum. This is to help individuals to understand the basics of psychic development and the different levels of magic so they can decide their own path, and have the basis to understand individual groups, methods and objectives and see if it matches their own. As it develops, there will be more advanced classes added to the schedule.
- All material I have is published online. My bibliography is listed online. Classes may shift depending on the individuals’ needs and the questions that are asked to help with individuals’ growth at the time. As I write, I will keep adding it to the web site. Other material will be in books, to be read on site. Individuals will need to invest in themselves, and groups into each other.
- People can hang out and learn. If individuals become disruptive to other students they will be asked to leave.
- Societies that have their own initiatory traditions or revealed traditions, if they desire to be part of the community can close various levels of training to the tribe and or their particular group.
- We do not allow illegal use of drugs. We have respectable jobs and do not wish to lose our careers nor endanger others careers with illicit behaviors.
- Alcohol may be available to post-ritual feasts. In general this is a bad habit to get into. We will not encourage it.
- The Elders and I support polyamory and other lifestyle choices, as long as the choices are about honest and ethical relationships. Until we start having larger celebrations, we expect people to retire to their own homes.
- All individuals are to hold each other’s dignity and safety a priority. Sexual predatory behavior will not be allowed. Such behavior will be a reason to dismiss people from the tribe. Adult flirting and other type of behavior as long as it is consensual and not making each other uncomfortable, we are not against this. Common sense is needed, respect for people checking in each other. No means no. We prefer that people use explicit consent.
What type of leader am I?
Honestly I don’t know. It really depends on the people who share the dream. How I can facilitate that dream? What other leaders and individuals are there who want to build something greater than themselves?
I hope I can teach. I hope I create a passion for developing spiritually. I hope I inspire people to study magic, people, society, others, and most importantly to love, each other, the community and a country that needs a better way than what it is doing to itself now.
If I can’t build a better world with one model at a time, I hope I can find at least one person that I can teach all that I know. I don’t want all that I have learned to be lost.
Archonstone. What is this nickname moniker that I have chosen? Archon is by a Greek definition an elected leader. As a Gnostic term, it is a being that heralds a new age. A stone is a worked rock. A stone is used as middle eastern metaphor for a person’s skull and sometimes a seed, from a fruit or a grain. The root letters are similar and can be used as a spiritually laden pun. I want to be a seed for something that is worthy to be grown and cultivated in the future. A stepping stone, for a new eon of human evolution. Or at least a new age. My original Pagan name was Witan. It was a handle I used in the BBS days of the late 80’s before the internet. I ran a BBS called Wizard’s Workshop that was dedicated to magick, philosophy, and religion. Like any BBS of the day it was targeted by hackers and I lost a lot of my investment from them destroying my computers from that activity. The Wizard’s Workshop was held every other Sunday afternoon. It helped people with psychic talents recognize that they were normal, not some bedeviled, possessed individual. That there were many paths out there. Maybe not in that area. There were books and precedents for many things they experienced. We did some spiritualist exercises that helped hone our skills and gave each other feedback on what was being done. When the internet replaced the BBS and there IRC chat rooms, Witan was a common moniker used by different people, and some very vocal rabid individuals that devolved that social media into another quagmire of drama and mediocrity, and who claimed I wasn’t who I was. I chose this moniker for its complex, rich and challenging meanings for me to grow into. I am still working on that.